Skin Cancer: Day 8,395
Today is a good day. This morning, I had my six-month checkup with my dermatologist. Going into the appointment, I knew that I hadn’t noticed any new areas on my skin that were causing me great concern – nothing looked like it might be basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, which are the two types of skin cancer I’ve been dealing with for over twenty years.
Getting to know my skin pretty well
I did have a couple of areas on my chest of actinic keratosis that I thought my doctor would probably want to freeze with liquid nitrogen, but other than that, I felt pretty good about this appointment. I was hoping my doctor felt the same way. My dermatologist has commented previously that I can usually tell which are areas to be concerned about and which aren’t; I guess it comes with experience – although it’s experience I’d rather not have.
Anxiety before routine checkups
Even though I felt pretty confident about my current situation, I still had anxiety before my appointment. If you’re like me and have skin cancer that continues to pop up and unfortunately wasn’t a ‘one and done’ deal, the many years of being poked, prodded, frozen, numbed, biopsied, excised, and stitched at appointments can make even a routine checkup something to dread.
The rollercoaster effect
My journey with skin cancer can feel like a rollercoaster at times – there are good days where I feel confident that I’m doing the best that I can to be sun smart and make sure I don’t cause any more sun damage to my skin, and there are days that I am so very tired of having skin cancer and having to constantly worry about getting a sunburn.
It just keeps coming back
A day where I’m in a great mood and life seems near perfect can suddenly feel turned upside down if I notice something on my skin that wasn’t there a few days prior. Every new spot is suspicious, until proven otherwise. And knowing that my appointments with my dermatologist can easily turn into needing to get a biopsy which turns into needing excisional surgery for a cancerous area, makes me want to turn my car around and go back home instead of going into my doctor’s office.
No biopsies are a cause for celebration
But today, I determined, was going to be a relatively easy appointment. I kept that positive attitude as I drove to my doctor’s appointment, and I held on to that thought throughout the exam. I pointed out the few areas that I thought may need to be frozen, and my doctor agreed. She pointed out another small area, just beneath my nose, that she said she also wanted to freeze.
Even though cyrosurgery is a fast process, the few seconds of the application can be a bit painful. The areas on my chest weren’t too bad, but the skin right under my nose is apparently more tender, and getting the liquid nitrogen sprayed on it made my eyes water. Before I knew it, though, she was done, and then she said six words that made me happy – “There’s nothing that needs biopsied today!” Those were beautiful words to hear, and were such a relief. “Today is a good day,” my doctor said with a smile, as she left the exam room. Today is indeed a very good day.
How often do you speak to your family members about skin cancer?